As a youngster, I remember near the end of every school year, my classmates and I enjoyed an annual School Picnic day at the amusement park. The amusement park where we went was called Chain of Rocks Fun Fair Park, a marvelous old-style amusement park in St. Louis, high above the Mississippi River bluffs and adjacent to US Route 66, that first opened in 1927. (The picture at right isn’t the park but a motel that was located near the park.) One of the most memorable attractions of this particular park was an old-fashioned wood structure roller coaster. Such fun!
[Six Flags St. Louis didn't make its debut until 1971. With the success of Six Flags as a more modern amusement competitor, the eventual end of Fun Fair Park was a foregone conclusion. Chain of Rocks closed in 1978.]
By the time I was junior high age, I attended these School Picnic outings with friends who happened to be boys. (They may have considered me a girlfriend, but they were my friends, nothing more.) Since I was something of a daredevil and loved the rides that went fast or high … and most especially, fast and high, those are the rides I’d choose.
One year, there were three of us, roaming the park together: Mike and Max and me. (I preferred hanging out with friends who were boys because my girl classmates were mostly drama queens and I dreaded the complexity of those friendships.)
I remember Max had wandered away for some food and Mike and I boarded an enclosed ferris wheel. (There was the expected up and around motion, but this was also the kind of ride where if you moved a bar, the car itself would rock back and forth. If you moved the bar repeatedly, the enclosed car could rock forward and backward until you felt like you were almost directly facing the ground. I loved it!)
I was having a great time making the car rock as we traversed the normal ferris wheel path around the circle, but about halfway through the ride, Mike started to look a little green around the gills. He even said (in a slightly unsteady voice) if I continued to rock the car, he was probably going to puke. Being the contrarian I am, I was sorely tempted to continue … but I gave the guy a break. For the rest of the day, though, I rode the rides by myself. I didn’t want anyone else to ruin my fun!
When I wrote this light-hearted poem, images of those annual School Picnics certainly came to mind. You can easily see my contrarian streak expressed in this poem − most sane people would agree a merry-go-square is a nutty concept!